WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J.- Monmouth University’s women’s lacrosse team (11-6, 9-0 NEC) finished the conference regular season undefeated with a 9-7 victory against Central Connecticut State (9-8, 7-2 NEC) on Sunday afternoon.
The defending champion Hawks captured the 2013 Northeast Conference Regular Season Championship, earning the right to host the 2013 NEC Women’s Lacrosse Tournament next Friday and Sunday on Kessler Field. Monmouth finished a perfect 9-0 in league play, the first time MU has ended the regular season with an unblemished conference record since the 2006 season, which was the last time they hosted the tournament.
“I’m really proud of this team, I thought we fought very hard today to win the game” said MU Head Coach Denise Wescott. “A lot of players stepped up big. Cassie scoring for us, Kelly going in and face-guarding Vendel. Katie had some great plays in goal, Gianna did a great job in one-on-ones and getting the draw for us later in the game. This was a total team effort. It’s great to end the regular season undefeated and being able to host the tournament. Everybody did the small things we needed to do to get this win. We needed to fight like dogs today to get this victory and they did that.”
Monmouth’s 11 regular season wins is the most since the 2008 squad had 12 victories. MU has outscored league opponents 110-52 this year, including 68-21 in the second half.
Like they had a number of times throughout the season the Hawks had to overcome a halftime deficit, trailing 5-3 to the Blue Devils. The Hawks started the second half off with five unanswered goals, including two from Allison Stathius (Delran, N.J./Delran). Sophomore Meaghan Hess (Lake Stevens, Wash./Lake Stevens) cut the deficit to one at the 27:00 make and Stathius tied it up two minutes later. Kaleigh Gibbons (Candia, N.H./Central/RMU) put the Hawks ahead 6-5 on a feed from Sam Savona (Jackson, N.J./Jackson Liberty) with 22:00 left in the contest. Stathius and senior Cassie Campasano (West Islip, N.Y./West Islip/Jacksonville) pushed the Hawks ahead 8-5 by scoring a pair of goals within two minutes of each other. CCSU’s Ryan Mackenzy got the Blue Devils to within two then Claire Healy cut the lead to one with 3:39 to play. Campasano added an insurance goal on a free position attempt with 2:37 to play and the Hawks came away with the 9-7 victory.
Savona started the scoring just 1:29 in the game but CCSU’s Falynn McCartney tied it up at the 20:06 mark. Defender Gianna D’Urso (Fairfield, Conn./West Essex Regional) caused a turnover and took the ball deep into Blue Devil Territory where she was fouled and granted an 8 meter attempt. The senior scored her first goal of the season on the ensuing free position attempt but the lead didn’t last long as CCSU’s Betsy Vendel scored one minute later. Vendel put her squad up 3-2 at the 15:05 mark, then Blue Devil Amanda Toke gave her squad a two goal cushion seven minutes later. Campasano scored her first goal of the game with 6:43 to play in the half, but Toke answered right before the half to give her squad a 5-3 advantage at the break.
Campasano led the Hawks with three goals while Gibbons had three points on a goal and two assists. Stathius continued her solid weekend with two goals, three ground balls and a caused turnover. Goaltender Katie Donohoe (Peterborough, Ontario/Holy Cross Catholic Secondary) had seven saves in net to go with a pair of ground balls and a caused turnover. With her five draw controls, freshman Kristina Vangeli (Hillsborough, N.J./Hillsborough) set Monmouth’s record for most draws in a single season with 66, eclipsing former MU All-American Heather Bryan’s 2001 mark of 63.
Toke and Vendel led the Blue Devils with two goals apiece, Mackenzy led CCSU in points with a goal and three assists. Blue Devil goalie Morgan Tullar had 12 saves as Monmouth outshot CCSU by a 25-23 margin.
Monmouth will be the top seed in next week’s 2013 NEC Tournament. Check www.GoMUHawks.com and www.Northeastconference.org for more information as it is released on game times. Semifinals are set for Friday with the Championship Game is slated for Sunday.